Like popcorn, a chestnut is in a closed shell with moisture trapped inside.
When heated the moisture can forcefully pop the nut open....when cooking chestnuts always slit the shell first to allow the steam pressure to escape.
Otherwise the nut will burst with a small explosion!
Storage is not the same as most nuts.The chestnut has a high carbohydrate content; more like a potato than most of our common (high fat) nuts.
Storage in a cool and moist environment is recommended. Temperature just above freezing is best.
For home use, we are currently keeping our chestnuts in the lower section of the refrigerator in a sealed food storage bag.
The outer shell of the chestnut is quite thin and easy to cut with a knife. Color varies from light brown to almost black.The nut inside is covered by a light papery skin called the pellicle.
The pellicle may peel freely from the nut, or may be embedded in convolutions of the chestnut meat and be difficult to separate from the chestnut.
The meaty inner portion of the nut may be smooth and hence separate easily from the pellicle. Or, the surface may be convoluted like a walnut and may be difficult to separate from the pellicle.
The major impact of this form is in ease of cooking with the nut.
If you want access to a broad spectrum of information about Chestnuts, start here.
Read the Chestnut chapter in Luther Burbank's book.
First paper on pruning. Read this issue of The Western Chestnut.Second paper on pruning. Read this issue of The Western Chestnut.
The Northern Nut Growers Association, Inc. (NNGA) brings together people interested in growing nut trees. Members include experts in nut tree cultivation, farmers, amateur and commercial nut growers, and more
The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station has a well established connection with Chestnut research in the United States.
Interested in growing chestnuts commercially?
Contact Michigan State University at the link below and ask them for information regarding commercial nut growing activities.
What happened to chestnuts in the United States?Several hundred years ago the tall American Chestnut was the dominant tree in the Appalachian Mountain range.
In the late 1800's Chinese Chestnut trees were brought into the United States for experimental plantings. Unfortunately the imported trees carried a fungus to which the American Chestnut trees had no resistance.
The result was that the American Chestnut died off throughout the range where it occurred most densely (the fungus could spread from tree to tree).
The American Chestnut remains in isolated locations, but no longer stands as king of the forest.
The easy answer:
Would a peach tree grow there?
Soils, terrain, temperatures for peaches also work for chestnut trees … although chestnut has additional autumn requirements.
Notes regarding conditions for growing chestnuts:
Be concerned about the spring warmup and following frost
Avoid 27F “hard frost” after growth begins at 200 GDD 50F
Terrain should drain cold air to lower ground
Length of growing season,
Want 140 days between last 27F of spring, and first 27F of autumn
Latest possible autumn "First Frost Date",
To allow possibility of late season chestnuts
Accumulated GDD over the growing season
More accumulated warmth leads to larger nuts
Minimum winter temperature
At -30F some trees will die, -20F is risky
Soil type, and drainage,
Surface soil well drained, no standing water
Lower layers slow movement of water
By Richard Winkel, updated 27 September 2014
Winkel Chestnut Farm & Nursery
1. Plant as soon as possible
2. Always plant chestnuts into well drained ground. NO standing water through any part of the year. If you can measure and manage soil pH the desired range is 5.5 to 6.5
3. Our trees are grown in RootMaker pots. They have a well developed root system that is balanced with the top of the tree. No need to prune the tree on planting.
4. Do not break up the root ball or otherwise try to manipulate it on planting. Remove the tree from the pot and plant it as is.
5. Plant in an area free of other plants (grass, weeds) for at least three feet around the tree.
6. Chestnuts trees prefer to grow in a well drained soil, only slightly moist and cool. This is best done by mulching the area around the tree and over the root system. Do not mulch right up to the tree trunk.
7. The planting hole should be the depth of the pot with a firm bottom which will not let the tree root system sink deeper into the soil when the soil settles.
8. Create a loose area around the planted tree to let the new roots explore outward. You can do this by digging a wide planting hole and backfilling with the removed earth. Or plant in a slightly oversized hole and work up the soil further out to give the roots an easy path outward.
9. Stake the tree with a 5-6 foot stake. Tie the tree loosely to the stake. Leave this support in place until the tree has developed a firm footing in the ground, and straight trunk to your chosen height (probably 5 feet or more).
10. Fertilize in late winter or spring (March and April). Miracle Gro for acid loving plants is a good blend for young chestnut trees. References noted below will provide additional information regarding fertilizer.
11. Many animals will see these young trees as food. Provide a ring of fence or screen around the trees to keep mice, rabbits, and deer away. Mice will eat bark at ground level and can be kept out with a fine mesh wire cloth. Deer will browse on the tree top and limb ends . This can be prevented with a five foot fence or a tree tube.
12. To create a straight clear trunk, prune off lower side limbs when they become over half the diameter of the main trunk. Leave them in place until then to nourish trunk growth.
References worth your review
The Western Chestnut; Vol 2 No. 2, Spring 2000; article by Dr. Araki:
Rogers Reserve, Michigan State University support of the nut industries: